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NOTEBOOK: CAROLINA PANTHERS 24, CHICAGO BEARS 17

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Panthers vs. Bears: Cam Newton, Jay Cutler throw interceptions in their NFL preseason opener

By Jonathan Jones and Joseph Person
jjones@charlotteobserver.com jperson@charlotteobserver.com

If Friday night showed anything, it’s that the preseason is for getting all the turnovers out of your system before the regular season.

The Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers combined for seven turnovers in the preseason opener. Those turnovers included two pick-sixes and two involving rookie running back Kenjon Barner.

Cam Newton never looked away from tight end Greg Olsen on an underneath route and was intercepted by Jonathan Bostic, who returned it 51 yards for a touchdown. In the third quarter, second-year cornerback Josh Norman snagged a Matt Blanchard pass and went 60 yards to the end zone.

“For us to go out and create a turnover on the first defensive series, I think that speaks volumes of our defense and what we are capable of doing,” linebacker Thomas Davis said.

The top three quarterbacks for the Panthers each had a turnover. Derek Anderson short-armed a pass to Ted Ginn Jr., which was easily intercepted by Zack Bowman. Then, on Carolina’s next possession, Anderson’s screen pass to Kenjon Barner was fumbled by the sixth-round pick and recovered by the Bears.

“Regardless of it being my first time it’s unacceptable because you can’t win a game with turnovers,” Barner said. “I’ve just got to learn on it, build on it and move on to what’s positive.”

Third-string quarterback Jimmy Clausen fumbled the handoff to Barner in the third quarter, giving the Panthers the turnover trifecta for quarterbacks.

“He tried to reach on the football instead of letting Jimmy stick it in there, so just some young mistakes that he made,” coach Ron Rivera said. “Kenjon showed that he can contribute. We saw his quickness … that was exciting to see.”

But the Bears were generous as well. Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler threw a pass in front of intended receiver Alshon Jeffery, who stopped on his route, and was picked off by Norman.

Midway through the second quarter, Anderson Russell recovered an Armando Allen fumble in the Carolina red zone.

No Ginn: Joe Adams, last year’s starting kick and punt returner for the majority of the season, fielded every punt in the first half. Armond Smith and Kealoha Pilares fielded the kickoffs.

Ginn, who is first on the depth chart for both positions, was not back deep. Ron Rivera decided to sit Ginn in the season opener.

“We want to see the other guys,” Rivera said. “We know what Ted’s capable of right now. Until we get into a situation where we need to oil him up, we’re going to wait.”

Injury report: Rookie fullback Mike Zordich left the game with a knee injury in the first quarter and did not return. Zordich, an undrafted free agent from Penn State, was hurt while a covering a kickoff.

Rivera said the injury “might be a tough one,” and the team will do an MRI on Zordich this weekend.

OBSERVATIONS

• Anderson and Ginn had a hard time getting on the same page in the first half. Ginn appeared to cut a route short on one play. Later, Anderson short-armed a throw in the direction of Ginn and was picked off by Bowman.

• Strange seeing former Panthers LB James Anderson at Bank of America Stadium in a different uniform. Anderson, a salary-cap casualty during the offseason, helped set up Carolina’s first touchdown when he interfered with Olsen inside the Bears’ 5-yard line.

• Another longtime Panthers defender – end Julius Peppers, who famously shushed the BoA Stadium crowd three years ago – did not play.

• The Panthers had a moment of silence before the game for former director of stadium operations Jon Richardson, who died last month following a long battle with cancer. Richardson, son of Panthers owner and founder Jerry Richardson, was 53.

• Third-string quarterback Matt Blanchard was facing a Carolina defense with 10 players midway through the third quarter when Panthers tackle Sione Fua ran onto the field. Blanchard, possibly flustered, called Chicago’s first timeout of the second half.

• Charles Johnson and Kawann Short combined for the lone Carolina sack of the first half. Johnson got the initial hit after the rookie tackle got good pressure on the interior of the line.

Panthers 24, Bears 17

Chicago730717
Carolina777324

First Quarter

Car—LaFell 3 pass from Newton (Gano kick), 10:08.

Chi—Bostic 51 interception return (Gould kick), 6:09.

Second Quarter

Chi—FG Gould 35, 10:15.

Car—Barner 5 run (Lineberry kick), :18.

Third Quarter

Car—Norman 60 interception return (Lineberry kick), 6:13.

Fourth Quarter

Chi—Ford 4 run (Gould kick), 12:53.

Car—FG Gano 50, 7:38.

A—70,700.

ChiCar
First downs1618
Total Net Yards291292
Rushes-yards19-7032-92
Passing221200
Punt Returns3-313-37
Kickoff Returns3-794-96
Interceptions Ret.2-602-71
Comp-Att-Int24-34-216-30-2
Sacked-Yards Lost7-561-0
Punts6-40.75-49.6
Fumbles-Lost2-12-2
Penalties-Yards5-445-44
Time of Possession29:0930:51

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Chicago, Blanchard 4-26, Ford 6-15, Unga 3-15, Allen 3-12, Bush 1-3, McCown 1-0, Forte 1-(minus 1). Carolina, Barner 9-37, Poole 9-23, A.Smith 5-17, D.Williams 5-10, Clausen 3-4, Anderson 1-1.

PASSING—Chicago, Blanchard 15-18-1-194, Cutler 6-8-1-56, McCown 3-8-0-27. Carolina, Anderson 8-15-1-133, Clausen 5-9-0-51, Newton 3-6-1-16.

RECEIVING—Chicago, M.Wilson 4-82, Ford 3-35, Jo.Anderson 2-27, Bush 2-16, Aromashodu 2-13, Miller 2-9, Jackson 1-23, Toliver 1-14, Jeffery 1-13, Unga 1-11, Weems 1-11, Maneri 1-8, Golden 1-7, Forte 1-5, Allen 1-3. Carolina, Gettis 3-56, A.Edwards 2-38, Barner 2-17, B.Williams 1-24, Ginn Jr. 1-17, Bersin 1-13, Pilares 1-13, S.Smith 1-10, Poole 1-7, Hartsock 1-3, LaFell 1-3, A.Smith 1-(minus 1).

MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.

Complete Carolina Panthers coverage from The Charlotte Observer at CharlotteObserver.com/panthers
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